We love chop houses, the imbued tradition. An 18th century description of what was then all the rave, 'beef, mutton, veal, pork and lamb; you have what quantity you please cut off, fat, lean, much or little done', hence chop houses. But QCH is a little more than the average chophouse however, for in our opinion, it has three things in particular in its favour:
i) this old/new thing gives you the best of both worlds, hence, they have taken the traditions and style they want while able to jettison those which don't suit. Accordingly, QCH is like the love child of Wiltons, Simpson's Tavern, Rules and St John, which can't be a bad thing.
ii) they've brought it together in a coherent manner so it feels right. The food, the decor, the service is all in step. It's a smart achievement and while this is an English chop house, there's French tones also in the overall style, but these layer character rather than detract.
iii) the food is very good indeed, and again, feels both new and fresh, yet is food that, as much as anything, is a step back in time to the venue's heritage.
Somewhat strangely, the bar menu of food is much closer to an a la carte than the limited choices available on the real lunch menu, and all our food is chosen from it. It changes constantly so even if you go there tomorrow, don't expect to find the same.
We lead out with crisp pork belly, artichokes and stonecrop. The pork belly is not so much crisp but gelatinous because of the streaky layers of fat, full of juice and flavour that bursts on eating. The artichoke meanwhile is exceptional enough for us both to comment on, not a hint of bitterness. Maybe an error on our part here in the order, but we have a plate of Lardo di Colonnata also, couldn't resist. A tough picture for the camera, thin sliced white fat on a white plate, but it's good, albeit it arrives in its 'plain' state, we had to ask for the bread. As you eat it however, the guilt, oh the guilt.
Mains are meaty affairs for the most part, it is a chop house afterall, though wild mushrooms are offered for vegetarians and possibly a fish dish on the lunch menu. We stick with the farm however, and order a 'longhorn shin, tail and heritage carrot stew', and smoked brisket and potato cake. The brisket was the winner here, a smoky rich dish that, if you have the talent to finish off this decent sized portion, has you reaching for the bread to mop up left over sauce, too good to send even a drop back to the kitchen. The beef stew was enjoyable enough but never achieved the depth of flavour of the brisket, rather, it was closer to something you might reasonably make yourself at home.
We had already spotted desserts before ordering our meal and we were both determined even then to leave room for chocolate terrine and salted caramel, something very much worth doing. With a dollop of clotted cream on top, it's classic combinations that satisfy. A quince jelly with shortbread (and more cream) continues in the same vein, though manages to put on a more sophisticated showing than you would suspect from the description. Good to see that desserts are a little more interesting than the sponge and custard that chop houses too often feel bound to.
'If this were local to us', one of us observed at the end of the meal, 'we would eat here all the time'; that's how you end up feeling about the place. And while we had no wine today, both the prices and quality of what's offered would make it worth a visit for that alone, even if the food wasn't as good as it is. Given the big hitter reviews they've had, we were surprised to be able to get a table on such short notice, but we doubt this will last. TQCH will for sure build a very large and very loyal following, and we say good luck to them, for it's well deserved. Without breaking the bank either, The Quality Chop House is a very welcome addition to the London restaurant scene.